Mississippi Public Universities Play Large Role in Aerospace Industry
November 13, 2017
From the Wright Brothers' first flight in 1903 to putting man on the moon in 1969, the 20th Century was a remarkable time for the aerospace field. In the 21st Century, we have even greater opportunities for more incredible progress in flight and space. Through education, research and service, Mississippi Public Universities are at the leading edge of that progress. Seizing these opportunities takes teamwork of many, including government, military, business and academia.
Two Mississippi public universities have joined in the quest to make aircraft both lighter and safer. Southern Miss and Mississippi State University were selected by Boeing to lead research and development on composites. The new master agreement designates Southern Miss as the technology incubator of next generation composite material systems, working to accelerate research and development of next generation materials, including polymers and polymer matrix composites. In addition, Boeing has decided to relocate its stitched resin infused technology efforts to Mississippi State.
This is the newest chapter in the long and fruitful partnership that The University of Southern Mississippi has enjoyed a with The Boeing Company. Boeing currently has a research contract to utilize the assets of the Accelerator, the University's business incubator, and the 10-year partnership with Boeing has created internships and permanent job opportunities for students in the polymer program.
Boeing has provided 11 graduate student internships, while hiring five of the University's doctoral graduates. Additionally, Boeing has recognized the University's scientific contributions by presenting Southern Miss with the prestigious Silver Level Supplier of the Year Award in consecutive years (2013, 2014).
Mississippi State University student researchers are unleashing the power of unmanned aircraft systems, leading the way in a revolution that's redefining agricultural science, opening doors for industry and creating new careers.
As a National Center of Excellence for the Federal Aviation Administration, Mississippi State is leading a research team comprising 20 research universities and more than 100 government and industry partners. This Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence is known as ASSURE, and the team's central purpose is to write the rulebook for unmanned aircraft.
Expanding UAS technology means billions of dollars in economic impact across the country along with thousands of high-tech jobs. Through experience gained from the ASSURE center's hands-on research and testing opportunities, MSU students are positioning themselves to fill these jobs.
Students at MSU's Raspet Flight Research Laboratory are collaborating with major corporations on research and development projects that are propelling the new industry forward. Safety, human-machine interface, maintenance standards, crash impacts – these are just a few of the considerations that must be explored and defined as students chart a flight plan for the commercial future of aerospace.
Through UAS technology, scientists are attempting to solve major world problems such as hunger by using unmanned aircraft to revolutionize farming techniques and improve crop yields through precision agriculture. Other applications include emergency response, biofuel and clean fuel technologies, law enforcement activities and environmental monitoring.
MSU has provided workspace, technical training and assistance with product development and research for numerous industries over the past decade. These efforts and Mississippi State researchers' expertise have helped companies such as Airbus Helicopters, Aurora Flight Science, GE Aerospace and Stark Aerospace establish bases in Mississippi, bringing more than 700 high-tech jobs to the state.
The University of Mississippi's High-Speed Aeroacoustics Group (HSAG), a part of the National Center for Physical Acoustics (NCPA), operates two state-of-the-art aerospace research facilities: The Anechoic Jet Laboratory where supersonic jets are studied in an echo-free environment, and the Tri-Sonic Wind Tunnel Facility where flows up to Mach 5.0 have been used to study weapons release from supersonic aircraft, missile plume exhaust, and other high-speed flows.
Formed in 1998 to study missile interceptor dynamics for the Army's Space and Missile Defense Command, HSAG has over the past 20 years established partnerships with the Army, Navy, and Airforce, along with industry partners including GE Aviation, Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney, and Boeing and academic partners at U.T. Austin, Auburn U., Mississippi State University, and others. The industry-quality facilities and state-of-the-art diagnostics provide a unique experience for both graduate and undergraduate students and a center for collaborative aerospace research for partners within the state. For example, an MSU Aerospace team in collaboration with HSAG was recently awarded a 3-year NASA EPSCoR program to study aeroacoustics related to the launch of NASA's Space Launch System.
Preparing the next generation of aerospace students, Jackson State University hosts the STEM STARS Institute, an interdisciplinary science and mathematics institute for high school students. JSU works with partner NASA Stennis Center to offer the workshops with the goal of improving the quality of science and mathematics education in the Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi region. The Institute was formed in partnership with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Xavier University of Louisiana and higher education partners in various K-12 school districts.
Delta State University is preparing the next generation of aviation industry talent. The university's Department of Commercial Aviation is the state university system's only undergraduate and graduate aviation programs, preparing its students for a variety of opportunities in the aviation industry, including the airlines, aircraft manufacturing, airport management, air traffic control, and military aviation.
Graduates of the Delta State program may serve as members of flight crews, air traffic control specialists, and executives with supervisory and managerial responsibilities at all levels. The Department of Commercial Aviation offers a Bachelor of Commercial Aviation (BCA), with concentrations in Aviation Management and Flight Operations, and a Master of Commercial Aviation (MCA).
The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.